Journal article

Discriminant Brain Connectivity Patterns of Performance Monitoring at Average and Single-Trial Levels

Electrophysiological and neuroimaging evidence suggest the existence of common mechanisms for monitoring erroneous events, independent of the source of errors. Previous works have described modulations of theta activity in the medial frontal cortex elicited by either self-generated errors or erroneous feedback. In turn, similar patterns have recently been reported to appear after the observation of external errors. We report cross-regional interactions after observation of errors at both average and single-trial levels. We recorded scalp electroencephalography (EEG) signals from 15 subjects while monitoring the movement of a cursor on a computer screen. Connectivity patterns, estimated using multivariate auto-regressive models, show increased error-related modulations of the information transfer in the theta and alpha bands between frontocentral and frontolateral areas. Conversely, a decrease of connectivity in the beta band is also observed. These network patterns are similar to those elicited by self-generated errors. However, since no motor response is required, they appear to be related to intrinsic mechanisms of error processing, instead of being linked to co-activation of motor areas. Noticeably, we demonstrate that cross-regional interaction patterns can be estimated on a trial-by-trial basis. These trial-specific patterns, consistent with the multi-trial analysis, convey discriminant information on whether a trial was elicited by observation of an erroneous action. Overall, our study supports the role of frequency-specific modulations in the medial frontal cortex in coordinating cross-regional activity during cognitive monitoring at a single-trial basis.

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